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Hebron suffers landfill and water shortage, aggravated by Israel

May 11, 2014 5:23 P.M. (Updated: May 12, 2014 8:09 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Like many cities in the region, the southern West Bank city of Hebron faces a shortage of space for waste disposal. Unlike most cities, however, Hebron's problems are exacerbated by gun-toting Israeli settlers who forcibly access the area's main landfill.

Mayor Dawood Zaatari told Ma'an on Sunday that the al-Minya landfill, which was built with World Bank funds specifically to serve the 800,000 Palestinian residents of the Bethlehem and Hebron regions, is still being used by Israeli settlers who dump their waste "at gunpoint."

"We could take the case to international courts in order to stop settlers from using the dump," al-Zaatari added, stressing that "settlements are illegal and we don't recognize them."

Al-Zaatari, who chairs the Joint Service Council for Solid Waste Management of Bethlehem and Hebron, added that the council contacted several international organizations and donor countries in attempt to stop settlers' violations. "A legal committee is studying the case and we could end up filing a complaint against settlers," he added.

The al-Minya landfill is the first modern waste landfill in the southern West Bank, and was intended to dispose of 34 percent of the entire West Bank's total needs.

Hebron has also been suffering from a serious water shortage that is expected to take a few years in order to be fixed, the mayor told Ma'an.

Asked about the water crisis in Hebron and the municipality's preparations for the upcoming summer, the mayor said that all West Bank districts face water crises in summer. The problem, he said, is mainly political as Israel maintains control on water resources in the West Bank.

Hebron municipality is about to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Palestinian water authority to implement a wastewater desalination facility which will provide initially 12,000 cubic meters of water for agricultural and industrial use every day.

Hebron city needs 40,000 cubic meters of water every day. The Palestinian water authority, however, can provide only 25,000 cubic meters, according to mayor al-Zaatari, due to Israeli control over West Bank water resources.

Responding to a question about claims of maldistribution of water, the mayor said: "Water distribution is controlled electronically and we make sure that water is distributed equally to all citizens."

He added, however, that hospitals, medical centers and civil society organizations and the old city of Hebron are given priority because they deal with humanitarian issues.
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